Something happened in fiscal year 2015 that hasn’t happened in years. Commercial First-Class Mail volumes increased a tiny bit. And we do mean tiny. The 9,700-piece increase in First-Class Presort Cards and Letters doesn’t even register as a percentage point increase over last year. Still, this movement is enough to get people wondering: Is it a blip or the end of the freefall for First-Class Mail?  

While single-piece First-Class Mail has been in decline since about 1990, commercial First-Class Mail – what businesses mailers send – remained a growth product until 2008 when it fell by 1.6 percent. It has declined every year since then until this year (see chart below). It’s no coincidence that 2008 was the turning point for commercial mail volumes. That year marked the first full year of the Great Recession, which roughed up the housing and financial sectors in particular. With limited cash flow, those sectors – heavy users of First-Class Mail for advertising – cut back on marketing, including direct mail.

Standard Mail volumes also dropped during the recession, but they experienced a small uptick in 2013 and have flattened since then. Could Standard Mail be poised to begin a pre-recession climb? Digital enhancements to mailpieces combined with incentive programs, such as the Postal Service’s recently approved Promotions Program for 2016, could provide a boost to a Standard Mail rally. Certainly, Standard Mail will benefit from the 2016 elections as politicians and political action groups use direct mail for messaging.

Where do you see mail headed in 2016? Is the uptick in First-Class business mail a sign of good things to come? Or was it too small to indicate anything? Do you expect digital enhancements to mailpieces to increase marketers’ use of Standard Mail in 2016 and beyond?

 

 

 

Comments (10)

  • anon

    They apparently lost my passport application. So my passport is lost somewhere for anyone to steal. I tried calling and the wait time is like 45 minutes when I can even get through to get on hold, which I can't sit and wait around for at one given time. It's ridiculous. I paid normal first class mail charge and all I have is the transaction number which apparently doesn't do anything for tracking. This is disgraceful that something that important goes lost and I can't even get anyone on the phone in reasonable way/time to see where it may be.

    Jul 06, 2016
  • anon

    Why doesn't the sorting destination in Kent Wa track when your package leaves their facility?

    Mar 10, 2016
  • anon

    U.S.P.S. is the worst, most pathetic and inept service we 'the people' have ever seen. Where is the pride in doing a job correctly and efficiently? Why can't a customer call the Post Office and speak to someone in order to resolve a delivery issue? No one answers the phone or it isn't a working number. Why isn't there a tracking number for SurePost once it leaves the hands of UPS? A number to enable a customer to track items?? Whoever set SurePost up, really missed the mark? Does no one at the U.S. Postal service have any common sense, commitment to a job well done for their pay?

    Jan 07, 2016
  • anon

    I ordered some camera gear a week ago. I didn't expect to receive anything before Christmas, but I did. All of it. The USPS tracking info was spot on during that time. In fact, yesterday, Christmas Eve, tracking info showed that I was to receive 2 packages that day. Nothing came. Until 11 p.m., when a vehicle pulled up to my door, the driver left the 2 boxes and waved goodbye, with a smile. 11 p.m. I want to say a big "thank you" to the USPS employees who worked all day yesterday, into the late-night hours, to make sure I, and many others, received their packages. I hope you all have a wonderful Xmas day, and are able to get some rest. I, for one, appreciate the hard work that you do.

    Dec 25, 2015
  • anon

    I have a package coming from Singapore and its tracking is saying its processed through sort facility in los angelos isc facility usps it's been there for 8 days now what's going on I needed that before Christmas... Tracking number LN401993462SG

    Dec 23, 2015
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. Unfortunately, this issue falls outside of the jurisdiction of our office. As the Office of Inspector General (OIG), our role is to investigate waste, theft, fraud, and abuse within the Postal Service through our audits and investigations. For lost or delayed mail and parcels, contact the U.S. Postal Service Domestic & International Tracking department at 1-800-222-1811 or visit www.usps.com/manage/welcome.htm for help.

    Jan 05, 2016
  • anon

    I will never use the Postal service again. I will exhaust all other options and even pay much more to ship a letter through UPS or Fedex. That way I know it will get there on time. The last 3 times I've used priority mail it has taken 4-5 days and even more on 2 other times. It's pretty sad that the postal service has a Facebook page with thousands of followers that say you suck.

    Dec 22, 2015
  • anon

    Season's Greetings. Might I suggest you consider using the tracking number as the transaction number for credit card purchases, or even include on credit card purchases since you are scanning the number. Like many others, I misplaced my receipt (completely my fault); however, I payed for my delivery with my credit card. I wanted so badly my transaction number to be my tracking number, but it wasn't and now I feel like I'm about to get hoodwinked (still, my fault). Thanks and Happy Holidays.

    Dec 22, 2015
  • anon

    I have been a Rural Carrier for the past 25 years and frankly it is my belief that the recession and financial free fall of 2008 has never rebounded despite the government's manipulation of the numbers especially the unemployment number of 5%. With 95 million adult aged people not working, another 45 million on food stamps and a first class letter rate of 2 for a dollar (49 cents each) millions of people are not mailing unless they have too. When people have jobs again, food on the table and a little money in their pockets you will see first class mail rising again as business rebounds and everyone has a small sense of future once again. PAEA in 2006 has been the Post Offices major undoing and Congress has yet to act to undue its destructive nature. What the PAEA has done to the Postal Service, ObamaCare (ACA) is doing to the Nation and the national workforce. America has been largely a part time workforce since the enactment of these two pieces of COMPREHENSIVE legislation. The Postal Service's part time employees have gone from 8% to 25% of the total work force and the Postal Service has reduced first class mail standards to a shadow of what they were and cannot even come close to meeting the reduced standards with their crippling mail processing plant consolidations. Headquarters management has turned its back on letter mail and is only concerned with the parcel business not just at Christmas time but year round. Frankly, postal management does not know who its customer is when it comes to mail processing. They think they can process the mail for the street with DPS letters and DPS flats. The mail should be processed for the carriers both city and rural. Mail processing's customer is the carrier until such time as he or she can be eliminated from the delivery process. Mail can be delivered much faster when cased, with greater safety, less mistakes and much less fuel for both LLVs and POVs. A large part of the Postal Services problem is a very large number of management has never done the actual work that they manage. Too many members of management were mediocre as craft employees and took 204B positions to get out of their daily craft jobs and now are mediocre managers and supervisors. A large part of those 206,000 full time positions that have been eliminated represent experience and a brain drain in today's Postal Service.

    Dec 21, 2015
  • anon

    Very good piece, Larry. I might add that as the rich get richer, the big picture gets more and more obscured. Congress is responsible for everything you wrote about. Our lawmakers are in it for themselves for the most part. Vote out all incumbents. They might get it then.

    Dec 23, 2015

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